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Lee County Fire Chief David Forrester discusses ambulance remounting during Tuesday’s Lee County Commission meeting.

LEESBURG — A resolution before the Lee County Commission Tuesday that would have allowed the board to make an appointment to the Chehaw Park Authority did not move forward when it failed to get a second for the motion to be approved.

For almost a half-century, a majority of Chehaw park has existed on land in Lee County with the county having no real input into the park’s planning or development. Mary Ligon, chairwoman of the Chehaw Park Authority, presented a resolution Tuesday supported by the Chehaw Park Authority and the Albany City Commission to the Lee County Commission that would have changed that.

Included in the resolution was a request that the commission “support the requested changes to the act creating the Chehaw Park Authority; request the same support of the Dougherty County Commission and the city of Albany; and request that the local legislative delegation collectively endorse and wholeheartedly support and introduce this request for presentation during the 2020 Georgia General Assembly legislative session.”

The resolution contained several recommendations to the General Assembly including a request that the act creating the CPA, which expires Dec. 31, be revised “to better represent the citizens of the city of Albany, Dougherty County and Lee County.” The resolution further emphasized the CPA’s belief that “these changes to be in the best interest of the citizens served by the Chehaw Park & Zoo and will ensure the future success of Chehaw Park & Zoo.”

Following Ligon’s request for approval by the Lee board, Commissioner Rick Muggridge said that since the Albany City Commission had approved the measure earlier in the morning, “I think that Chehaw deserves our support and the city of Albany deserves our support.”

Before Muggridge’s motion to approve was completed, Commission Chairman Billy Mathis asked Ligon, “What was the resulting vote and who voted against the resolution?”

She informed him that Mayor Bo Dorough and Commissioners John Howard and Demetrius Young were the opposing votes in the 4-3 split.

“My only comment ... I agree with Rick. ... We’ve always supported Chehaw, we love Chehaw, we give in-kind contributions on a regular basis,” Mathis responded. “It’s my understanding the mayor of Albany is opposed to the legislation. I would like to sit out until they, meaning the city of Albany, sort out all their issues.”

Muggridge responded, “They voted on it, it’s sorted out.”

The chairman restated his concern that Dorough was opposed before Muggridge went on to make a motion in support of the resolution. There was no second, and the motion died for lack of support.

With public safety becoming an ongoing topic of concern within the county, the schedule to (remount) three additional ambulances was discussed. A remount is a procedure in which a body consisting of the cab, chassis, engine and drive train are purchased, and the box from an existing ambulance is refurbished and placed on the remount. The cost of a remount compared to the purchase of a new ambulance is approximately $91,000 versus $273,000.

Fire Chief David Forrester reported that the company had two 2019 chassis that were still available for remount, and the cost of a 2020 model would increase by at least $2,000. Mathis expressed his desire to remount all three in succession so that there would be five new ambulances, placing a new one at each station, and have two good spares. Muggridge expressed concern about such a large expenditure at one time and recommended stretching the purchases out over an extended period, which would still give the county five new ambulances that will be less than 5 years old at the time.

Commissioner Luke Singletary pointed out that the county had already purchased two ambulances this year, and that “the problem is not current. ... If we do three ambulances in a year, they will wear out at the same time and we may be saddling other commissioners in the next four to eight years to replace all of them at once.”

Singletary recommended the purchases be spaced out to prevent potential financial difficulties down the road. The issue was called to question and the call to remount all three ambulances passed on a split 3-2 vote with Muggridge and Singletary opposing.

With the recent cycles of severe weather, the installation of switches for generators at seven locations where generators have been installed was discussed. The cost of each of the required switches ranges between $8,000 and $12,000. Following the discussion, the board voted to install a switch at the Tharp Building only, as it was deemed to be a command center.

Roads continue to be an issue of concern with several bridge and paving projects being discussed for future funding.

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